George Sidney Brett

George Sidney Brett, philosopher (b at Briton Ferry, Wales 5 Aug 1879; d at Toronto 27 Oct 1944).

Brett, George Sidney

George Sidney Brett, philosopher (b at Briton Ferry, Wales 5 Aug 1879; d at Toronto 27 Oct 1944). Educated at Oxford and having taught in India, he moved from teaching classics (1908) at Trinity College and University College, University of Toronto, to the department of philosophy, where he was chairman 1927-44. His 3-volume A History of Psychology (1912-21) assesses the philosophy of mind theories; Brett presents psychology as the study of the immediate data of the inner life, distinguishes it from other sciences, and resists the new experimentalist approach.

The Government of Man (1913) traces political stages in societies. Freedom is seen here to emerge from the relation between man's inner life and changing social orders. Brett's commitment to historical modes of understanding led him to be seen by some as the founder of the "Toronto School of Intellectual History."

He guided courses and appointments in Toronto for many years. A fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he founded the Canadian Journal of Religious Thought, served as an editor for the Journal of General Psychology and the International Journal of Ethics, and was first editor of the University of Toronto Quarterly.